Pharyngeal pressure with high-flow nasal cannulae in premature infants

J Perinatol. 2008 Jan;28(1):42-7. doi: 10.1038/ Epub 2007 Nov 8.


Objective: The aim of this study was to measure pharyngeal pressures in preterm infants receiving high-flow nasal cannulae.

Study design: A total of 18 infants were studied (median gestational age 34 weeks, weight 1.619 kg). A catheter-tip pressure transducer was introduced into the nasopharynx. Flow was sequentially increased to a maximum of 8 l min(-1) and decreased to a minimum of 2 l min(-1).

Result: There was a strong association between pharyngeal pressure and both flow rate and infant weight (P<0.001, r (2)=0.61), but not mouth closure. This relationship could be expressed as pharyngeal pressure (cm H(2)O)=0.7+1.1 F (F=flow per kg in l min(-1) kg(-1)).

Conclusion: High-flow nasal cannulae at flow rates of 2 to 8 l min(-1) can lead to clinically significant elevations in pharyngeal pressure in preterm infants. Flow rate and weight but not mouth closure are important determinants of the pressure transmitted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / methods*
  • Pharynx / physiology*
  • Respiration*
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*